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Changing our Cultural Narrative of Menopause: Shifting from Silence to Proud Wisdom

Have you been feeling positive and empowered about menopause?  Very few of us do!  Our current cultural narrative about menopause in the modern western world is one of loss - of fertility, youth, desirability, relevance - which is a very disempowering story to be living. 

Is this the story we want to support?  I don’t!  

It’s time for all of us to be activists to create cultural change in our cultural narrative about menopause and aging.  We are building a new narrative of this transition as more than just physical.  We’re understanding the power of embracing this time as a psychological and spiritual rite of passage, an initiation into wise eldership.  

There are simple, accessible steps we can take to make a REAL difference in shifting our cultural narrative – here are 15 ideas to put into action: 

  1. Break the silence and start talking about menopause with everyone!  We’ve been taught to feel shame about this transition, but as we share our experiences, we reclaim our power, and welcome other’s vulnerability too.
  2. Listen to and learn about the psychological and spiritual changes of this time for you, and talk about menopause as more than just a physical event.  Contemplate what the wisdom gifts of this time are for you, and share these with others, not just the challenges.
  3. Support older women and educate younger women by sharing that there is a cultural shift going on about menopause – from loss to an initiation into wisdom – and talk about why it’s important and how to support this.
  4. Research the positive ways wise elders were valued in your ancestral cultures, and consider how to bring some of these traditions back into your life.
  5. Understand why the dismissal of older women’s wisdom and beauty exists.  Research the history of ageism and patriarchy, as well as past and current cultures that value the wisdom of eldership.
  6. Celebrate aging!  Share pictures of yourself with smiling crow’s feet, wrinkles, silver hair, a full moon belly.  The more that we celebrate body positive and age positive beauty, the more that this will become the norm.
  7. Get support!  Whether it’s here at The Moon Passage, in a local group of friends, or elsewhere, meet with other menopausal women to share your experiences and break the isolation and disempowerment.
  8. If you see ageist advertising or marketing, write to companies telling them you don’t like it and why.  Explain that their products can be supportive of healthy aging rather than anti-aging (idolizing youth and trying to stop the aging process). You could consider boycotting products and finding alternative companies that have a more progressive approach.  If companies or products are doing it right – celebrating age diversity, offering positive perspectives on aging and menopause – contact them to express support and appreciation.
  9. Ask organizations and companies to support more diverse role models – models, actors, spokespeople, leaders – of all ages, as well as ethnicities, genders, abilities, and sexual orientations.
  10. Advocate within your workplace for accommodation strategies for menopause – flexible work schedules, offering options to work from home, company information sessions about wellness.  Menopause is one of many issues that can contribute to stress and burnout and is an important issue for companies to address to reduce employee dissatisfaction and turnover.
  11. Advocate within your company or organizations for hiring older women as leaders.  Share why this is not just politically important, but brings more power and wisdom to your organization, with the clarity, experience, intuition, and other gifts that older female leaders may bring. 
  12. Speak out!  If you hear someone say something dismissive like “old lady” or “menopause hysteria” or even something that can sound positive like “You look great for your age,” explain to them why that’s ageist.  
  13. Track and change your own language – calling ourselves “washed up” or “past our prime” reinforces a negative view of aging, and buys into an ageist cultural narrative. 
  14. Amplify the wisdom of eldership – find role models of mature wisdom to follow, learn from, and support.
  15. Find alternative words to menopause.  I’m offering “Moon Passage” as one alternative, but you could create your own that speaks to you.

I hope these ideas are inspiring!  I’m positive that you’ll find others – please let me know what else could be included in this list.  And please join us for workshops, retreats, online community, and more at The Moon Passage to support each other in making these vital cultural changes. 

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